One of Rotary International’s greatest programs for young people is the Youth Exchange that allows students to spend time in other countries, learning the customs, the geography, the educational systems, and the languages, all while creating life experiences

It’s not always smooth sailing — in extreme cases some students are sent home for infractions of the rules — but the overwhelming number of people who have participated are emphatic in their praise of their journeys.

Here are some videos sharing experiences, including a comparison of the Youth Exchange program with the American Field Service program that offers a similar experience, and testimony by a number of American host families encouraging others to participate in that way.

If you’re interested in finding out how to get information on the local Rotary program supported by the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club, email A.J. Amato, our club’s Youth Exchange Officer, at

Below the videos, you’ll find a Q&A section outlining the Rotary Youth Exchange program.


Are you interested in learning a new language or meeting new people? Rotary Youth Exchange is the opportunity of a lifetime for the more than 8,000 students who participate each year. By sharing your own culture and embracing a new one, you help foster global understanding — and learn a great deal about yourself and your home country in the process.

Q: What is a Rotary Youth Exchange?

A: Youth Exchange is a study-abroad opportunity for young people who spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full year as an international student hosted by local Rotary clubs.

Q: Is an exchange right for me?

A: Exchanges are for people ages 15–19 who:

• Have demonstrated leadership in their school and community
• Are flexible and willing to try new things
• Are open to cultural differences
• Can serve as an ambassador for their own country

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Costs vary from country to country. Local Rotary clubs generously host students and provide room and board with a host family and a small monthly stipend. Participants generally are responsible for:

• Round-trip airfare
• Insurance
• Travel documents (passports, visas, etc.)
• Spending money, additional travel and tour fees

Q: How can I apply?

A: Contact your local Rotary club to see if it participates and to learn more about the types of programs offered, and specific application process required. Because the selection and orientation process can be lengthy, we suggest you apply 6­–12 months before you plan to leave.

Q: Can I host an exchange student?

A: Hosting an exchange student can be an incredibly rewarding experience for your family, providing an international experience without leaving home. Host families provide room and board and share their lives with exchange students, involving them in family, community, and cultural activities.